Kenya rises #UpForSchool as hundreds march through Kibera

Up for School or #upforschool campaign

Students from Kibera School for Girls show they are #UpForSchool

All pictures: © Victor Okal/Black Continent Television

Hundreds of people marched, sang and chanted for the right of every child to get an education as the #UpForSchool campaign was launched in Kenya.

In an amazing show of support, more than 8500 signatures were handed in for the #UpForSchool Petition, a youth-led demand that world leaders take urgent action to get all boys and girls into school before the end of 2015.

The event was held in Kibera, the largest urban slum in Kenya’s capital Nairobi and was led by Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) in co-ordination with A World at School.

Hundreds march through the streets of Kibera to show support

Kennedy Odede, raised in Kibera and founder of SHOFCO, told the rally: “You must connect not only with children but the whole community to ensure everyone recognises the positive impact of education. Parents must ensure they are the ones for pushing for their children to go to school, learn and grow.

“Today we are demanding. Today we are demanding our children have an education. A good, quality education.”

The #UpForSchool campaign – which aims to be the biggest petition in history – has already held launches and youth rallies in New York and London.

Children in Kibera add their names to the #UpForSchool Petition

On December 2, it was the turn of Kenya. The day’s events began with a march of nearly 500 people from the Kibera School for Girls through the neighbourhood – featuring music, placards and chants of #UpForSchool.

The marchers then moved to a stage at Kamukunji, where more than 1000 people gathered, including Kennedy and Global Youth Ambassadors (GYAs) from A World at School.

GYA Diphus Kiprop Ng’eny delivered an impassioned speech about the campaign to support the 58 million children currently excluded from school because they are child labourers, child brides, discriminated against or exploited. Kennedy spoke of the support from SHOFCO and the absolute need to ensure every child has access to their right to education.

Crowds of children and adults watch the entertainment

The crowd was treated to an array of entertainment from Kibera residents, including boxing, acrobatics, singing, rapping, dancing and theatre. It demonstrated the amazing talent that lies within poor urban communities and which can be given the chance to grow within schools.

Students from the Kibera School for Girls took to the stage to sing a song about education and how it gives young people the chance to show their talents.

A representative from A World at School was also there to read out a specially-prepared statement from Gordon Brown, the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education. It said: “I am pleased that youth from across Kenya are standing #UpForSchool and marking the Africa-wide launch of a new campaign to raise awareness of the need to get every child in to school and learning.

Grade 4 at Kibera School for Girls raise books #UpForSchool

“Shining Hope for Communities, led by Kennedy Odede, is taking on a strong leadership role in the mobilisation of young people in Kenya as we enter the final stretch of our campaign to achieve universal education for all children.

“By coming together, one person, one signature at a time, we can join our voices across all continents in an undeniable call to action to eliminate child labour, child marriage and discrimination against children, especially girls, so that every child can reach his or her potential through education. I am #UpForSchool and hope all Kenyans will join us.”

Sarah Brown, campaigner and co-founder of A World at School, said: “Young people around the world have launched the #UpForSchool Petition to get every child in to school, no matter who they are or where they are born. Every child has the right to go to school and it is exciting to see so much support for the campaign from young people in Kenya.”

Kenyan Global Youth Ambassadors attend the march and rally

Boaz Waruku, Africa Co-ordinator of the Civil Society Education Fund and Programme Manager of the Africa Network Campaign for Education For All (ANCEFA), was also at the launch. He said: “Teachers and young people are coming together around the world to call for action for all children, no matter who they are or where they are born.”

ANCEFA will be collecting signatures in more than 30 countries across sub-Saharan Africa. With 12 million signatures pledged by other partners such as Avaaz and Education International, #UpForSchool is already halfway to becoming the biggest petition in history. But with fewer 400 days to go until the end of 2015 it is critical that the campaign continues to mobilise numbers.

You can add your voice to the campaign and sign the #UpForSchool Petition now. And you can see many more pictures from the event on our Facebook page.

Students from Kibera School for Girls in their SHOFCO T-shirts

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